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Bandido / Bandida

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

Designed by Martin Nedergaard Andersen, with art by Lucas Guidetti Perez and Odile Sageat, Bandido was first published by Helvetiq in 2016 as part of their range of pocket-sized games. It was followed up in 2020 with Bandida - a standalone sequel that can also be partially combined with the original game as an expansion (tho' more accurately, you'd be combining parts of Bandido with all the components for Bandida).

Both Bandido and Bandida are fully cooperative games for 1-4 players, tho' with Bandida you can vary the objective. Both games involve a jailed bandit trying to mount a prison break. The starting card shows the incarcerated bandit with the start of 5 or 6 tunnels (choose the five-tunnel side for easy mode; the six-tunnel side for harder challenge). Players each have a hand of three cards and, on your turn, you play a card to connect to one or more of the tunnels with the aim of either placing out a card that closes off a route or looping a route back on itself, thus preventing the bandit's escape. If players close off all escape routes before they run out of cards, then they collectively win the game. If they run out of cards with one or more routes still open, then the players lose.

It's a simple enough idea and play is refreshingly intuitive, making this a game that's super-easy to teach and learn. Players keep their hands of cards to themselves (they're not open for all to see) so this has the great merit of being a cooperative game that's largely immune from 'alpha player syndrome' (a bossy player telling everyone what cards they should play) which is bugbear of so many other cooperative games.

Bandida can be played the same way as Bandido but it offers several tweaks. Some of the cards show items or alarms. Draw a card showing an alarm and it'll force discards - making life more difficult for the players. Play a card tho' that shows a piece of equipment and it will shake up play a little. The backpack, for example, will increase a player's hand size; dynamite lets a player put down two cards rather than the usual one; the shovel lets you put down all your cards and replenish your hand. On the face of it these seem like help for the players but they burn through the deck so they don't necessarily give you any net advantage. They do, however, help to spice up the game.

More significantly, Bandida offers the option of varying the players' objective. Instead of keeping the bandit in jail, players can collectively help her to escape. Play is just the same as the basic game except that in this variant, one of the routes must lead to a ladder and all the others have to be blocked off. Combine the two games to play 'the lovers' escape': you start off with both the Bandido and Bandida prison cards and, using the Bandida cards, you need to create a route that traces a path to the ladder for both bandits while blocking off all the other routes.

Both Bandido and Bandida make for easy-to-play games that can be enjoyed as family games and as 15-minute filler-length puzzle games for seasoned gamers. Solo gamers may find them a little too easy but they work well with up to four players and we've especially enjoyed them both, separately and combined, as two-player games. And tho' gameplay takes up your tabletop, the games are very compactly packaged so they take up very little space in your holiday suitcase.

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